The beating heart of Akora is without a doubt our members - a community of truly interesting and passionate individuals. Since we launched our serviced apartments back in the summer, it's been a pleasure to connect with them and hear their stories.
We sat down with one of our earliest members, Dominic, to learn more about his background and experience in Madrid:
Where were you visiting from?
Manhattan, New York.
What are you working on right now?
I work for a company called the International WELL Building Institute. It's a public-benefit corporation that works to improve human health through the design of buildings and spaces where we spend 90 percent of our time. We've been advancing this mission through a platform called the WELL Building Standard (WELL) which is now being adopted across 58 countries, including Spain. WELL is linked to global health data and addresses everything from indoor air quality and thermal comfort to circadian lighting and mental health.
My passion project at the moment is expanding these types of design practices to low-income communities where healthier environments are needed the most. We're working on many cross-sector partnerships to help bridge the financial gaps of such improvements.
What brought you to Madrid?
As a company, we were interested in studying - first-hand - the health and productivity benefits of a seasonal remote working program for our employees. Through this pilot, every employee was offered one month to work anywhere they wanted in the world - to explore new markets, acquire new skills, or be closer to family. One colleague went to Dubai to be with family, another went to Biarritz to take up surfing lessons in the mornings before work.
So why did I choose Madrid? Well, despite my very Spanish name (Dominic Enrique Ramos-Ruiz), my Spanish es no bueno. I took an immersive Spanish course in the early mornings, worked throughout the afternoon and evenings, and reconnected with my roots on the weekends. With some Spanish background, it felt like a bit like a homecoming for me.
Additionally, this experience allowed me to better understand a rapidly-growing market (for our business), as well as the challenges that come with feeling isolated and working across multiple time zones. I left with more empathy for my colleagues that work at our global outposts full-time, often on their own.
What are your favourite things about the city?
First and foremost, I love the culture and sophistication of Madrid. The city is so rich with tradition and history that one can easily - and very happily - get lost in all of it. The street life. The music. The FOOD. It's also a late city which, as a night owl, I really love.
If I were to pick one thing that I like most out of all of this, it would be Madrid's public spaces. There's a great level of appreciation and stewardship for the city's parks and plazas and the role that they play in bringing people together. My Akora apartment in Chueca overlooked a plaza, and it really felt like the heartbeat of the neighborhood.
What does 'community' mean to you?
For me, 'community' is this sense of commonality and belonging - and it can be found no matter where you go in the world.
How would you define 'living well'?
'Living well' to me is eternally aspirational - it's an on-going journey to find purpose, and to better one's self and the community around you.
What else are you passionate about?
Outside of work, my passion is in the arts - helping cultural institutions expand their impact. Our theaters, museums, and advocacy groups are so vital to the urban ecosystem and they're great community builders.
Snowboarding, cross country cycling, and sailing are also big parts of my life.
What's your mantra for life?
I opened a fortune cookie ten years ago that said: 'Your ambitious nature will help you make a name for yourself'. I pasted it onto a small photo of the Manhattan skyline, framed it, and kept it in my university apartment in Kansas. Four years later I moved to New York!
How did you find the Akora experience?
If comfort, convenience, and community are important to you, I would recommend Akora because it's the only management company that can truly offer all three.
First - it was nice to be in a home that didn't feel like someone else's, but more like my own. The apartment was nicely appointed, minimal, and clean.
Second - being in a new and unfamiliar city was never a challenge because Akora was only a phone call away for things like cleaning services, or finding a nearby gym.
Third - Akora is thinking about community-building in ways that most other management companies are not. Remote working can feel lonely at times, so being able to plug right into a network of other interesting people from around the world is, in my opinion, the greatest amenity of all. And while the community hub is still under construction, the Akora team warmly welcomed me to tour the space and even took me out for wine and tapas.
Any top tips for being location independent?
Always seeking out spaces with natural daylight or proper lighting, indoor plants, and people.
Spending time outdoors is also important. When I did my remote month in Madrid, I made an effort to do this frequently and found it very productive.
Many days after Spanish class, I would begin my workday over lunch at an outdoor cafe in Retiro Park. The cafe had great WiFi and I was able to practice my Spanish with the servers.